Entertainment | September 21st, 2021
The Fetishization of Black Women On TikTok
By: Micah Barkley
On TikTok, a new trend has emerged: white men declaring their love for Black women. This sudden wave of idolization across the platform has many wondering where this trend is coming from.
“It’s basically a tactic of fitting in,” says Dr. Henriette Yonts, a counselor and psychologist in Central Florida. Yonts explains that the fetishization of Black women on TikTok is an attempt to fit in with Black culture as Black content creators largely. She continues, “They may be ‘gassing it’ as they say these days… they may be stretching the extent to which they love Black women, just to get the validation they need.”
Jordan M’panzu, a Black female TikToker who has amassed over 1 million likes on her account, often feels apprehensive of these videos. “I think it’s hard to tell when the appreciation from white men to Black women is genuine because it’s through a screen,” she says. “… It seems as if they’re trying to convince themselves instead of anyone else.” For many content creators, like Jordan, white men posting videos that praise Black women can feel like a ploy to place themselves in proximity to Black culture’s influence.
Dating back to slavery, Black women endured the vile effects of hypersexualization. In the article, “The Colonial Roots of the Racial Fetishization of Black Women”, Caren M. Holmes notes how white slave owners fantasized over Black women through the myth that they were innately salacious. During the Jim Crow era, Black women were commonly seen as the mammy trope, which praises their seeming domestic nature. In comparison, the latest TikTok videos particularly praise Black women for their curves, their cooking skills, and their “unique” personalities.
“They aren’t appreciating our spirits and minds. They fetishize our big lips, our curves, our culture, style, swag and the overall idea of us being Black,” said Skylar Warren, a sophomore student at Florida A&M University. Warren — who has over 11.3k followers on TikTok — feels that though the intention of some may be to join the trend, announcing one’s approval of dating Black women teeters on the line of fetishization.
What is even more appalling is how some white men offensively compliment Black women. In comment sections under Black female TikTokers’ videos, disparaging remarks such as “White girls’ **** ain’t that fat” are often left. M’panzu once encountered a degrading comment herself, which read “Your wig is so nice” instead of “Your hair is so nice.” Like many other Black women placed in the center of the trend, she feels as these compliments are a robotic way to be as “culturally woke as possible.”
After years of degradation, many Black women are thrilled to receive the recognition they deserved, while others question if it is genuine, an act of lust, or a way to garner clout. Warren says, “We are bigger than these posts and comments where we are either being fetishized or degraded and disrespected.”